#ThankYouPlantMedicine

How Ayahuasca, 5-MEO DMT, San Pedro, Kambo, Mushrooms, and Marijuana changed my life — the good, the bad, and the ugly

Ali Katz
Ali Katz
Feb 22 · 11 min read

Before plant medicine, I was a narcisstic, blindly privileged (not even an ounce of awareness, hence a complete inability to even feel guilt, let alone responsibility), success junkie.

Today, after ten years of fairly regular experiences, I am a woman I am proud to be.

I’m proud of each mistake made and lesson learned. I’m proud of how I face the moment, feel the feelings, and listen to what Life is offering me, with a substantial amount of appreciation for what is, even when it sucks, and a true heart’s desire to be the change I want to see in the world.

I’m proud in a way that feels healthy to me. I am fulfilled by life, most of the time. Most importantly, I remember who I am, why I am here and what’s mine to do. The pride occurs to me in a deeply humble way; the kind that comes from knowing that I could lose it all, and will one day.

I am able to surrender to the impermanence of all of it, and keep saying yes.

My job is to keep remembering, and to stay in gratitude, for all of it.

Even, and maybe especially, through the tears.

These are the gifts that plant medicine gave me.

Self acceptance.

Forgiveness.

Compassion.

Plant medicine taught me how to be with my fear, and terror, and keep breathing.

Plant medicine taught me to connect with the earth, and my role in serving Her.

Plant medicine supported the reconnection of my mind and my heart, allowing me to put my mind to work on behalf of my heart.

Plant medicine showed me that I was building my success on the backs of others, and it had to stop. If I wanted to create a world that worked for everyone, and oh yes, I do, then I had to learn to face the parts of myself that were creating the exact opposite.

Plant medicine led me into depression, hopelessness, and despair. And then lifted me out again, with the courage to keep moving forward, learning, and growing, when I wanted to give up.

There are a lot of stories circulating right now about shady practices by false shaman, and the need to be extremely careful about how and with who you ingest plant medicines, and I’m glad. You should read all about the risks, and seriously consider the set and setting in which you engage with plant medicines. And, without question, you must know and trust the people who are guiding you.

I hope my story will help.

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I first experienced plant medicine when I stole marijuana out of my mom’s drawer and smoked it. I was probably 14. I liked it. A lot. I became a stoner, and thank god I did because I don’t know if I would have survived high school otherwise.

The stoners took me in, loved me, appreciated me, and didn’t make me feel like shit about myself. Everyone else, did.

I probably did mushrooms back then, but can’t remember if I did. I think I was more of an LSD girl in high school and college.

When I got to law school, I closed down that part of my life. It was time to get serious, get married, have babies, start my career. So, I did.

In 1999, I got married in February, preggo in March, graduated (first in my class) in May, moved back to Miami to start my clerkship in August (HOT!), and gave birth to Kaia in November.

I was on a whole different kind of medicine journey back then.

Until 2009, when I had achieved all the success that is really imaginable for a girl born in the 70s, to a mother who told her she could do it all, and a dad who raised her like a boy. Two million dollar+ businesses, a best-selling book, regular TV and radio appearances. A house on the beach. Kids in private school. I made it! But, I hated it.

Something was very, very wrong.

It was kind of like Erik Rittenberry wrote in the widely shared article, This American Life is Killing You. My American life was killing me. And, I couldn’t understand why.

And then Ayahuasca came into my life. People talk about “being called” to something. And, if I didn’t know what that meant before, I definitely knew what it meant after. I was “called” to Ayahuasca. I know, I know. So cliche and trite. But, it’s what happened.

In that first “journey” (I’m sure you already know that’s what a plant medicine experience is called, but in case you don’t), I came to understand what was dying inside me, and why.

I was shown a world that worked for everyone, and I got the first inklings that maybe I was creating a world that worked for no one but myself, and a few other privileged people.

The journey itself was beautiful and uplifting. I would rarely in the future again ever have as positive an experience. Most of my later journeys were challenging to say the least, and some were complete nightmares of epic proportions. More on that later.

That first journey, though, was beautiful, and hopeful.

Until I got home, and began to really see what I had created and what I was perpetuating. On one hand, I started to become quite confused. On another, things started to get very clear.

One day, as I was sitting on the sound stage of Nancy Grace, waiting for the light on the camera to turn green so I could gossip about Tiger Woods, and his affair, and wife and kids. Normally, when I’d be getting ready to go on TV, my mind would be silent, my ego fulfilled. I was doing what I was meant to be doing, and winning.

But on this day, two months or so after that first Ayahuasca journey, seconds before I’m meant to go on, I hear a booming voice in my head.

“Alexis, what the fuck are you doing? You are contributing to the world negative 1000. You about to gossip about another human being on national television. You can never do this again.

What? But, I love doing this.

Nope. You can’t do it anymore.”

Ten days later I posted this on my (fairly popular at the time) blog publicly outing myself as a fame junkie (in reaction to my past high school rejections) who wasn’t contributing anything valuable to the world with my television appearances. I made the decision that day that if I ever did television again, it would only be if it was transformational television.

And a week later, I packed up my family, our pets, two U-hauls full of stuff, and we left Los Angeles and moved to Colorado.

I chalk all that clarity and confusion up to Ayahuasca. Thank you, grandmother (Ayahuasca is often referred to as “the grandmother”).

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When I arrived in Colorado, I quickly came to discover that I didn’t really know how to connect with people in a non-business, heart-centered way.

And Colorado provided plenty of opportunities to learn via courses in authentic relating, relational leadership, many well-respected therapists in the community, and, yes, plant medicine.

My experiences with plant medicine expanded significantly, and one after another, I excavated parts of myself that had been long buried, terrified to show themselves to me or anyone else.

I can honestly say that I’ve had the full spectrum experience from complete and utter, ecstatic rapture on one end to total terror, and a wish that I would die, convinced that I had created all the suffering in the world.

I learned to breathe, and allow the feelings to flow through me, decreasing my attachment to the sensations, one way or another, more and more.

And as I decreased my attachment to the sensations, at the same time I expanded my capacity to be impacted.

You see, it turns out that I was walking around like a robot for most of the ten years of my success sprint. But I didn’t know it.

There were a few years during that initial success sprint in which I explored tantra (a form of breathwork that creates ecstatic experience) and enlightenment work (Osho style inquiry to have a direct experience of Oneness), and that’s when I first began to wake up from the robot reality. But, I put those aside once I really started to crank up the business success. The pull to pursue fame and fortune was too big.

Once I had it, and I still wasn’t fulfilled, it was time for the big guns, the plants. I am not sure I would have been really ready for plant medicine, had I not explored the other realms of breath and connection, first.

My plant medicine years taught me how to connect with myself, and then others, and the planet. Plant medicine supported me to reclaim my humanity, and now I get to support others to do the same, but through the tools of relational leadership and authentic relating, primarily for lawyers.

Plant medicine showed me how to be a leader, a warrior, and a peacemaker.

Even given all that, I don’t think that plant medicine is for everyone.

I had some quite terrifying experiences on plant medicines that if I had not been held in a safe container, I don’t know what would have happened.

The safety of the container is absolutely critical.

I have a strong constitution. If you don’t, you need to know that about yourself, and consider either not doing it or experimenting with very micro-doses.

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After Ayahuasca, I experienced 5-MEO DMT. During that experience, I came to understand time in a new way. I saw that “it’s all happening” (now the name of one of my companies, so I’ll never again forget) and that we live in a world of infinite possibilities, each one governed by a past and present timeline that we choose into.

I saw time as a fountain of water, spraying up from the middle, with each line shooting out and up from the middle, a line of past and present, which I could turn to and select the timeline I was stepping into by how I choose to be in the now moment. I later found out that this is the exact representation of the toroidal field.

5-MEO taught me, viscerally, what I’m not sure I could have ever understood from books or hearing someone else talk about it.

And, it turns out that what I experienced regarding time during my 5-MEO DMT journey is an actual scientific theory about time, and that the past, present and future all exist simultaneously.

But, I never read about this theory. Instead, as a result of my time with DMT, I experienced it for myself.

My experiences with San Pedro have run the gamut. The very first time I experienced it in Peru, I felt the most full of joy I had ever felt before, for the first 6 hours. And, then, something shifted, and I got to experience the exact opposite extreme.

The container wasn’t well held. I was scared. I couldn’t relax and surrender. No one had told me that the experience would last 12 to 13 hours. I walked out of the home we were in, on to a field at Sacsayhuamán, and I could hear the sheep from miles away, as if they were right next to me.

The leader of the program began leading a group on a hike, and I wanted to follow. But, I couldn’t move from the spot I was in. And, as I watched them go, I became aware of just how much we all want to plug into someone who has confidence and energy and just let them take us. As I remained where I was, alone, I heard a voice speaking to me, or perhaps through me.

“You are free. And this is what freedom feels like. This is what you want, right?”

I felt as if I was going to fly off the planet. I was scared I’d never make it home to parent my kids again.

No! Actually, no. I don’t want this much freedom.

I wasn’t ready for it then.

Fast forward ten years, and I was in a safe container, with people I love and trust. This time, I was able to surrender completely. I sobbed into the Earth for what felt like hours, allowing deep grief to move through me. Completely held. Many of the women came and sobbed with me, until finally I had felt all there was to feel at that end of the spectrum, and I was able to find the other end of the range, pure joy.

Shortly after, another journey, another safe container, feeling the pulse of the goddess through my entire body, embodying Her, and what it feels like to be fully alive, without a shred of self-judgment or fear. I was able to offer devotional love to a man who so clearly needed it; the love of a mother, a sister, a friend, and a lover. So he could feel again.

Thank you, grandfather. (San Pedro is often called the grandfather.)

Kambo came next. A traditional healing ritual performed by a shaman healer. The shaman burned holes into my shoulder and applied the poison to my wound. And, then, held me as the poison ran its course through my body, causing me to purge.

Why?!? To clear me of toxins. And, it works.

The scars left behind were badges of honor.

There’s so much more I could write about how plant medicine has shaped my life, guided me to re-learn to feel, and remember to breathe.

But, this is it for now.

If you have not yet tried plant medicine, and you are feeling “called”, I might suggest you start with marijuana. It’s safe and legal in many places, including here in Colorado.

From there, mushrooms can be a good next level. Access to nature is best. With one or two close friends, or even more ideally a guide who is well versed in navigating the dimensions of mushrooms, so you can really let go. And, personally, I like to have easy access to a clean bathroom nearby.

If you are going to experience Ayahuasca, and you want a very safe, curated experience, I am hearing great things about Rhythmia and 1Heart, both in Costa Rica.

And, for 5-MEO DMT, you’ll definitely want a trusted guide to hold space for you. When you are ready, it will show up in your life. In perfect timing.

Some of these medicines remain illegal here in the United States, though plant entheogens (plant medicine) and fungi (psilocybin/mushrooms) are decriminalized in places like Santa Cruz, CA and fungi are decriminalized in Denver, CO. So, be awake and aware about who is guiding you and where you are.

I trust the guidance of plant medicine. #thankyouplantmedicine. This article is part of the #thankyouplantmedicine movement, which you can find all the details about here. Or search #thankyouplantmedicine on Facebook or #thankyouplantmedicine on Instagram to read many more inspiring stories.

Also, if you made it this far, please give this story some claps here on Medium, so that more people get to see the story. Thanks so much. ❤

Ali Katz

Written by

Ali Katz

Founder of New Law Business Model + Eyes Wide Open Life. Truth-teller. Eye-Opener. Catalyst. Lawyer, Author, and Mom. http://www.TheAliKatz.com

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